Matthew begins with what is important to a Jew, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). The Hebrew people are not as concerned with what you do as where you come from; specifically who was your father and your father’s father. They are notably patriarchal. It was a bit of a surprise, then, to find four moms in the family tree: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the unnamed (though everyone knows it was Bathsheba) wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:3, 6); all the more scandalous because they were mostly women of scandal and non-Jews.
Most shocking is the fifth woman, a virgin “found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Joseph will be the husband of Mary, but not the father of Jesus, and his role is secondary in the story, the B-side of the hit single. Conductor Leonard Bernstein opined, “second fiddle” is the most difficult instrument to play, “Every one wants to be first violinist, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony.” Joseph played a faithful harmony, “when Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matthew 1:24). We do not know a great deal of Joseph, but what we do know is Joseph played his part well, he obeyed when God spoke.
The scandals, the women, the second fiddles, and the Gentiles in the genealogy set the stage for a Savior who came to save not merely the privileged, but the outcasts, not the well, “but those who are sick; not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13). This is good news because Jesus came to save the lost, like me.
My Lord and Savior, You came not as expected, not in majesty, but humility. I’m so glad you choose the company of sinners over saints. Otherwise, I would never have met You. Thank You for meeting me where I am. You loved me that much. Teach me faith and obedience, to follow Your commands for they are good, to live in harmony with Your Spirit.
May I be an ambassador of Your good news, an example of what You do in the life of one who is saved. May I love as You love, almost scandalously, going to unexpected places and bringing good news to the sick, the outcasts, the marginalized, to the sinners like me.